There is a difficulty in building a business case for e-invoicing. The natural starting point is a traditional paper process and there is an irresistible temptation to begin to count the savings offered by the counting the cost of paper. A sheet of A4, an envelope and a stamp. Well it's a starting point I suppose.
And then there's the general efficiency saving because it's quicker and easier to deal with electronic invoices compared to paper. This is true of course but having 7 hours of work to do per day instead of 8 doesn't save anything. It just makes like easier.
The fact is, if you approach electronic invoicing from the point of view of simply automating a paper process, then it won't save you a penny. So how do you go about building an effective business case for e-invoicing?
There's so much debate about interoperability and e-invoicing it's difficult to know who is on which side of the fence. Indeed, if you look at it for too long the fence itself starts to move. But all will become clear within a couple of years because the balance of power is going to change.
When you can see the tide coming in you do something about it. The problem for some businesses is that they don’t recognize the tide. This happened to Kodak, the photographic print manufacturer. They produced – still do produce – photographic film and paper. They thought that digital photography wouldn’t take off. How wrong can you get it? OK, they have diversified and now embrace digital but they were slow and too late and Kodak is now a shadow of its former self.
It's been over a decade since the e-business machine was mobilised and it began to evangelise the use of the internet to deliver supply chain efficiencies. There were some big claims made about how much public sector organisations could save - some of which were valid, others a little optimistic - and despite scepticism in some quarters, the UK government, like most across the world, recognised that the new purchase to pay solutions that were emerging could deliver significant value.
You know how useful standards are when you plug in an electrical appliance - the plug fits the socket. So it figures that we need an electronic invoice standard. We need the invoice plug to fit the AP socket. Right?
Count the number of B2B standards and regulations there are. That's how many reasons there are not to send electronic invoices.
Need a compelling reason to move to e-invoicing? Building a business case or developing a communication plan for it? Or just trying to evangelise electronic invoicing around your organisation? It's so much easier if you can distill down the complexity into easily digestible succinct messages. And that's why we love this infographic from Tradeshift.